Rome, Italy, Jul 11, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Archbishop-elect of Berlin said that he will meet with gay activists, after they criticized his appointment as the new archbishop of the German capital.
“We will meet with each other,” said Archbishop-elect Rainer Maria Woelk at a July 5 press conference, according to the Reuters news agency.
“I have respect and esteem for all people, independent of heritage, skin color and individual nature. I am open to all without reservations.”
The appointment of the 54-year-old auxiliary bishop of Cologne was announced on July 2, but his appointment was immediately met with hostility.
“The Church does itself no favor by sending to Berlin a representative of a backwards persuasion that contradicts peoples’ attitudes towards life,” the openly gay German parliamentarian Johannes Kahrs told the newspaper Berliner Zeitung. He went on to suggest that Archbishop-elect Woelk “openly has a problem with gay people.”
Archbishop-elect Woelk replied at the July 5 press conference, “The Church is not a moral institution that goes around pointing its finger at people.” He described himself as neither “progressive” or “reactionary” but merely “Catholic.”
“The Church is for me a community of seekers and believers, and the Church would like to help people find their happiness in life,” he said.
The interest in the new prelate’s appointment was so great that the news conference had to be switched to a larger venue at the last minute to accommodate the more than 100 journalists who turned out.
Archbishop-elect Woelk succeeds Cardinal Georg Sterzinsky, who died last month at the age of 75, after a long illness.
A native of Cologne, Archbishop-elect Woelk was ordained a priest for his home diocese in 1985. In 1990 he was appointed chaplain and secretary to the Archbishop Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, a post he held for seven years. He also has a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. He has been auxiliary bishop of Cologne since 2003.
Although Catholics are a minority in Berlin – numbering about 390,000 amidst a population of 3.5 million – the post of archbishop carries significance because the city is the German capital.
Archbishop-elect Woelk will be officially installed next month. One of his first tasks will be to welcome Pope Benedict XVI to Berlin during this September’s papal visit to Germany.
Rome, Italy, Jul 11, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - A year after assuming duties as pontifical delegate for the Legion of Christ, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis gave a speech evaluating the current situation of the religious congregation. He sharply criticized “dissidents” within the order who create division and internal tensions.
Cardinal De Paolis gave a “provisional assessment” of the task of rebuilding the order in a July 3 speech delivered at the Legion’s Center for Higher Learning in Rome. He explained that the order has already implemented “one-third” of the preparations to be completed before the Legion's general chapter meeting.
The meeting could be held as soon as 2013.
Leaders of the order are expected to then vote on major changes and revisions to the Legion’s constitutions.
“This period has provided an opportunity for greater serenity within the congregation and for a strengthening of renewed fidelity of the members to the congregation,” the cardinal explained.
“While it is true that in 2010 the institute suffered its greatest losses, it is also true that the exodus has been contained with regard to priests,” he said.
However, regarding the abandonment of the order by its youngest members, Cardinal De Paolis noted “the negative influence exercised by some companions who, upon entering the process of renewal, have adopted an absolutely critical attitude towards the path of renewal.”
“From the beginning, a group of members have joined together and has been described, by whom I don’t know, as ‘dissidents’,” the cardinal continued.
“In reality it is not a very large group, as there are very few people leading it. In emphasizing a ‘structural contamination’ of the congregation, they have manifested a radical lack of confidence in the continuation and renewal of the congregation. And in every way they have become antagonistic towards the legitimate superiors, seeing themselves almost as custodians of the orthodoxy of the road that must be traveled. They are using the internet extensively, with a network that extends to perhaps 200 or more people, including Legionaries, ex-Legionaries or friends of Legionaries with whom they usually meet,” Cardinal De Paolis stated.
The pontifical delegate said these “dissidents” act like “depositories of a prophetic mission in which some think they have a particular vocation to take the place of their superiors, to set themselves up as masters of the spiritual life and masters of sound doctrine.” They exercise “negative influence on the youngest members.
"This kind of information for some is the reason why the youngest members abandon the Legion,” he continued.
“Some of the leaders of this group are unsure about their vocations and share their doubts with others for no good purpose,” he said.
“As they are stuck on the harm suffered by the congregation, they seem to enjoy looking at the wounds and continuously reopening them, instead of looking toward the future with greater depth and hope, working for true renewal and taking the true path of conversion,” he added.
“We do indeed need to recognize that we are sinners. But to stop there is death! If that is a time for realizing that we need God, then it is a grace, and grace is what comes to meet us,” the cardinal said.
“The community, or our group of interest, is not an instrument for venting our frustrations or finding justifications. Our community is a not a ‘spit bowl.’ And we should feel humiliated when we are used like this,” he said.
Cardinal de Paolis also discussed the changes that are taking place within the Legion of Christ, including the work done by commissions looking at the order’s economic situation, financial settlements and the work of the European University of Rome.
“The work carried out by me and my advisors has been done, above all, in conjunction with the superiors in their service of authority, which is particularly delicate during this period. We believed it was appropriate to broaden the general council with two new advisors named after consulting the entire congregation,” the cardinal said.
“We have addressed various problems that have come up with greater urgency, such as that of defining the figure of the founder and his writings in the life of the congregation; legislation on internal and external jurisdiction; on the relationship between superior-spiritual director-confessor, with regards to religious in particular; there has also been a review of Regnum Christi, in particular the consecrated branch, especially the consecrated women, which included an apostolic visitation that concluded just recently.
“We will carefully examine the question when the visitor presents his conclusions,” he said.
“But the most important issue the Pope has given us is that of revising the constitutions, inasmuch as they mold your lifestyle, your spirituality, your apostolate; they contain your charism and the instruments for living it,” Cardinal De Paolis said.
“We have tried to avoid as much as possible, making any immediate changes to the constitutions, preferring instead that definitive decisions be made by the chapter,” he added.
Vatican City, Jul 11, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The head of the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano says the recent phone hacking scandal involving a British tabloid shows the need for better ethics in the field of journalism.
“What happened has been very unfortunate and News of the World was just the tip of the iceberg,” editor-in-chief Gian Maria Vian told CNA July 11.
At least nine journalists and three police officers are facing prison for hacking into the phones of celebrities, royals and families of crime victims to garner stories for News of the World – a British tabloid paper owned by the media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
The latest news reports indicate that even former U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown and other national figures had their phones hacked by News of the World journalists.
According to Scotland Yard, some of the imprisoned 12 have already been questioned and bailed but officials say it's likely that further arrests will be made soon.
Investigators also recently discovered a 2007 internal News International report indicating that hacking practices within the paper was more widespread than previously thought but that evidence was not given to police until this year.
Senior Metropolitan police officer John Yates has vowed that any police found to have been paid cash for stories by the newspaper would be imprisoned.
Up to now, three corrupt Metropolitan police officers – listed under false names in the News of the World's payroll records– were compensated around $200,000 in bribes by journalists.
Vian said that the mounting scandals involving the now defunct British paper show that ethical guidelines must be outlined for the field of journalism, as with any other profession.
The scandal makes it “evident that all information – and the Pope himself said this in his message for the World Day for Social Communication – needs a focus that allows for talk of 'info-ethics,' as bioethics is spoken of.”
The violations of privacy by committed by the News of the World reporters, Vian said, show a fundamental lack of regard for the humanity of the victims.
“Before information come the demands of justice and the demands of respect for the dignity of every human person.”
Vian said that L'Osservatore Romano is planning to address the scandal and the increasing need for “info-ethics” with an editorial by noted columnist Fr. Jose Maria Gil Tamayo.
Ethical criteria, he emphasized, must be respected by those in the field of journalism.
Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Jul 11, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - Officials in Spain “have not found any anomalies” in the security at the Cathedral of Santiago after the Calixtinus Codex was stolen July 5.
Sources from the Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela said security measures were working “normally,” reported Europa Press.
The sources also confirmed statements made by the dean of the cathedral, Jose Maria Diaz, that there was no sign of forced entry into the room where the codex is typically kept. However, it is not known whether the key was left in the safe that held the historic document.
Police are reviewing security videos but they have not said whether the cameras captured the moment in which the codex went missing.
The sources consulted by Europa Press also said that officials are reviewing how the cathedral handles security at its archives, as artifacts are not kept in individual lock boxes except when brought out on display.
The Calixtinus Codex has been kept at the cathedral since the 12th century and has only been taken out on two occasions, once in 1975 and again in 1993.
One of the two archivists at the cathedral noticed the codex was missing late on the afternoon on July 5. After calling the dean of the cathedral, they both carried out an extensive search for the document.
Unable to locate it, they notified police at 10 p.m. that night.
Police searched for evidence and interviewed the two archivists of the cathedral.
Khartoum, Sudan, Jul 11, 2011 (CNA) - African clergy say the Republic of South Sudan, which gained independence on July 9, must take steps to resolve an increasingly violent conflict in the troubled border region of South Kordofan.
“If the Government of South Sudan does not sit down to address the issues raised by the militia groups, it could become a nightmare with no stability for the South,” said Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum in a recent interview with the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
According to the United Nations, violence between northern Sudan's armed forces, and South Sudan's former allies in the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, has displaced more than 75,000 people since the groups began fighting in early June.
Earlier this month, Sudan's northern armed forces made the provocative gesture of strategically positioning four vehicles that appear to be outfitted with multiple-rocket launcher systems. The army says the deployment is normal and that the north is not assembling troops, according to the Sudan Tribune.
But Bishop Adwok remains wary of the move, which he expects will cause greater conflict between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.
“I do not think the South will stand idle if it sees its former allies experiencing fatalities and other forms of suffering,” Bishop Adwok noted.
The Sudan People's Liberation Movement allied with the south during Sudan's second civil war, which ended with a peace agreement in 2005. Under that agreement, the liberation movement was to be integrated into the Sudan Armed Forces. The planned integration, however, did not succeed.
Sudan's government acknowledges that South Sudan is now officially independent. But South Sudanese minorities in the northern nation fear that reprisals against them may follow, including the possible imposition of Islamic law.
“There is a recognition that change has finally come to South Sudan, but they are in a defiant mood,” Bishop Adwok said of politicians in Khartoum.
“Many see South Sudan becoming independent as a kind of liberation, meaning that Khartoum is now able to what it wants and can pursue its own agenda without having to take into account the very different needs of the south.”
Aid to the Church in Need reported on July 11 that 18,000 faithful in Bishop Adwok's region have sought repatriation to the south, due to the possibility of further oppression.
“The 18,000 do not have protection and are very vulnerable,” he said.
The community's willingness to face danger in crossing between the north and the south reflects a confidence in the Republic of South Sudan and its future. Father Chris Townsend, an information officer for the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, called it “a country of enormous potential” in a July 11 article for South Africa's Mercury newspaper.
But many who return from the north are finding their newly independent home incapable of supporting them. “Many Southerners who were in the North have fled south to few schools and less opportunity,” Fr. Townsend noted.
He said the enormous influx of people returning to South Sudan has seriously strained a country already suffering from “chronic” lack of infrastructure and development. South Sudan, Fr. Townsend wrote, “has a long way to go.”
Despite these difficulties, the country is focused on establishing its new independent identity. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the president of the Republic of South Sudan, issued his first decrees on July 10, establishing a temporary government.
The majority of the decrees represented a change in title from the “Government of Southern Sudan” to the “Republic of South Sudan,” with no changes in personnel taking place.
However, three ministries changed their names to reflect the new republic's independence. The Ministry of Regional Cooperation changed its name to Foreign Affairs, while the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development became the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Sudan People's Liberation Army and War Veterans Affairs became simply the Ministry of Defense.
The republic has also designed and ordered a new currency, called the South Sudan pound. The bills will bear the image of the founder of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, Dr. John Garang. The Associated Press reports that the new bills should arrive July 13 and go into circulation July 18.